We will take them out; we will kill bin Laden; we will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority. Tonight I can report to the American people and to the world, that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda, and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children ~ Barack Obama (dob 8/4/1961) making a campaign promise on 10/7/2008, and announcing (on 5/2/2011, as president) that the promise had been fulfilled.
Definition, Frenemy: a portmanteau of "friend" and "enemy" that can refer to either an enemy disguised as a friend or to a partner who is simultaneously a competitor and rival. The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions (Source: Wikipedia).
The following is an excerpt from the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, 5/2/2011, which I edited for brevity and clarity. The discussion concerns the operation (code named Neptune's Spear) carried out by Navy SEALs on 5/2/2011 which lead to the death of Osama bin Laden. (Information within brackets are notations added by me).
Thom Hartmann: ...this is a very significant moment [referring to the OBL kill]. But why now? Why not before? Gareth Porter is with us. Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and historian specializing in US national security policy. You can read his writings over at ipsnews.net and elsewhere. Gareth, welcome to the program.
Gareth Porter: Thanks very much Thom.
TH: I was at at dinner party a couple of weeks ago with a progressive member of Congress and a couple of local DC pundits, and I made the comment that in 2001 the Taliban made an offer to George bush. The Taliban offered to turn over Osama bin Laden and George bush turned them down. Everyone in the room, without exception, looked at me like I'd just said that the moon landing didn't actually happen.
GP: I think that is a fair comment on what happened in 2001.
TH: Actually, my understanding is that the Taliban didn't actually offer to turn bin Laden over to bush. They said to bush that they'd turn him over to a third country where he could get a fair trial [if the US was able to produce evidence that OBL was guilty of planning the 9/11 attacks].
GP: Actually, they went beyond that. That was their position as of the first week of October 2001; three weeks after 9/11. But after the US began the bombing of Afghanistan on October 7th, the Taliban very quickly adopted a new position - which was taken to a secret meeting in Islamabad by the then Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil. The new offer was to turn over, without any preconditions, and you can forget about the evidence...
They said they would turn bin Laden over to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which is a Saudi-based international organization of Islamic countries. It is a moderate Islamic organization. I believe it is a fair presumption that bin Laden being tried by an OIC international panel of jurors would certainly result in a guilty verdict for the 9/11 attacks.
Had George bush seized upon this proposal - the process [his trial by an Islamic organization] would have arguably reduced the appeal of bin Laden and al-Qaeda enormously throughout the Islamic world. Having Osama tried by Islamic jurists and by an Islamic international organization would have been an enormous advantage [in that the Islamic world would have accepted the verdict as legitimate].
TH: Why did the bush administration not want that to happen?
GP: That's a very interesting question, Thom. I have been writing a chapter for a book I'm working on precisely on this topic of why bush did not catch bin Laden. There are a couple of answers to that question. The first one is that the neoconservative inner core of the bush administration's national security team (Cheney and Rumsfeld) were determined to avoid getting involved in Afghanistan. They, of course, had their hearts set on Iraq and a major US military operation there. They never took bin Laden and Al-Qaeda seriously. Cheney and Rumsfeld dismissed the idea that Al-Qaeda could threaten the United States because they weren't state sponsored but independent actors. So they convinced bush not to do anything that could possibly prejudice the plans for an attack and occupation of Iraq.
TH: Which we know now he had been talking about in 1999 to his biographer Mickey Herskowitz, and was the subject, according to Paul O'Neill, of the very first cabinet meeting that they had in January 2001. [see YouTube video below].
GP: Exactly. The bush administration never had a plan to actually capture bin Laden. Even after 9/11.
TH: Right. Even at Tora Bora where he was arguably right there in front of him [Rumsfeld let bin Laden escape in 2001, says Senate report].
GP: You have to understand that what was being done there was strictly improvisation. There was no planning ahead of time. There would have to have been very detailed planning immediately following 9/11 for any possibility of an effective operation to capture bin Laden in Afghanistan.
TH: Gareth, here's my theory on this... if Lex Luthor didn't exist in the Superman comic books, and all Superman did was run around and stop gas stations from being robbed, they would be the most boring comic books on earth. The "good" of a good character in fiction is defined by how "evil" the evil character is. So for George bush to turn himself from a ne'er-do-well who was appointed by the Supreme Court - into Superman - he needed to have a Lex Luthor. And he took the opportunity to turn Osama bin laden into Lex Luthor so he could be Superman.
GP: I think there's something to that, but let's stop and recall a very important distinction here. When he had the opportunity to really do something about al-Qaeda and bin Laden in 2001 he was not interested at all. And remember that even in early 2002, after bin Laden had escaped to Pakistan, it was George W bush who reasurred the American people that bin Laden wasn't really important. He only invented bin Laden as a factor in his policy after the Iraq war began to go badly.
TH: Ah ha. So that's when it got convenient from him.
TH: Gareth Porter. Gareth, thanks so much for being with us. Great talking with you.
GP: Thank you Thom.
[End Thom Hartmann/Gareth Porter 5/2/2011 discussion]
My conclusion, based on this conversation (and everything else I have read), is that GWB didn't take the threat posed by OBL and Al-Qaeda seriously until it suited him. Richard Clarke (chief counter-terrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council) told bush that, since the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole (10/12/2000), he had been working on an "aggressive plan to take the fight to al Qaeda".
bush didn't want to hear it, so he demoted Richard Clarke and re-assigned the counter-terrorism issue to a task force headed by Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney's task force didn't meet until 9/4/2001. This was 234 days after the bush administration assumed power, but only 7 days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In the next segment Thom Hartmann concludes that GWB, "just wanted to transfer billions of dollars to his buddies in the defense industry", and points out that Halliburton was on the verge of bankruptcy before 9/11, and now, in the last quarter, this former US-based company (which is now located in Dubai) posted a 5 billion dollar profit. In bush's mind "the best way to revitalize the economy is war", and the best way to judge how the "economy" is doing is to examine how the wealthy elites are faring.
Clearly OBL and GWB exploited each other for their own advantage. Osama provided George with the excuse he and PNAC needed to launch their unending "war on terror" and "revitalize the economy". 9/11 also allowed bush to brand himself a "war president" and paint the Democrats as "weak on national defense", thus securing his second term - because you can't change a horse midstream when we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here.
In return bush handed Osama the bona fides he craved as a Wahhabi leader. Pre-9/11 Osama lead an obscure Islamic movement that was going nowhere. When bush declared war on "terror" and declared it was a "crusade", he elevated Osama to the level of super-villain (or hero fighting back against the "Great Satan", depending on your point of view) and revitalized Al-Qaeda. Outraged Muslims whose family members were killed ceased being innocent civilians and joined the "insurgency" to fight the American invaders. Osama's plan was to bog down the United States in a war of attrition and bleed America to the point of bankruptcy. George bush delivered in spades.
This is why call George bush and Osama bin Laden "Frenemies with benefits". Osama is now dead, "justice" having been served. But what about George bush? Why is he still a free man? We know where he is, so I think Seal Team 6 could take him out quite easily. Whether or not I'm kidding (about assassinating bush) I do believe he belongs behind bars - along with the other war criminals in his administration. I think that would be appropriate for a group of war profiteers that are responsible for the deaths of over a million people.
Video: When did bush decide to invade Iraq? A 2004 60 Minutes report says (according to then Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill) bush spoke of invading Iraq during his FIRST cabinet meeting! (2:01)